Fritz Leiber

From Academic Kids

Fritz Reuter Leiber Jr. (December 24, 1910 - September 5, 1992) was an influential American writer of fantasy and science fiction.

His popularity amongst both fans and his fellow writers was considerable, and his science fiction novels The Big Time (1958) and The Wanderer (1965) and the short stories "Gonna Roll the Bones" (1967), about a gambler playing dice with Death, and "Ship of Shadows" (1970) all won Hugo awards ("Bones" won a Nebula award too).

As the child of two Shakespearean actors, Fritz Sr. (see below) and Virginia (née Bronson), Leiber was fascinated with the stage and described itinerant Shakespearean companies in stories like "No Great Magic" and "Four Ghosts in Hamlet", and created a actor/producer protagonist for the novel A Specter is Haunting Texas. An interesting feature of The Big Time is that though it is about a war between two factions changing and rechanging history throughout the Universe, all the action takes place in a small bubble of isolated space-time, about the size of a theatrical stage, with only a handful of characters.

Many of Leiber's best works are short stories, especially horror. In such stories as "The Girl With the Hungry Eyes", and "You're All Alone" (AKA "The Sinful Ones"), he is widely regarded as one of the forerunners of the modern urban horror story. In his later years, Leiber returned to short story horror in such works as "Horrible Imaginings", "Black Has Its Charms", and the award-winning "The Button Moulder".

Among his most famous works are the Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories, written over a span of 50 years. The first of these, "Two Sought Adventure", appeared in Unknown in 1939. They are concerned with an unlikely pair of heroes, Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, who are found in and around the fascinating city of Lankhmar, a fertile hunting ground. (Fafhrd was based on Leiber himself and the Mouser on his friend Harry Fischer.) Although in many ways the stories now appear somewhat clichd, these stories were, in fact, the progenitors of many of the tropes of the sword and sorcery genre. They are also unique among sword and sorcery stories in that, over the course of the stories, his two heroes mature, take on more responsibilities, and eventually settle down into marriage. It has been noted that Terry Pratchett's city of Ankh-Morpork bears more than a passing resemblance to Lankhmar.

Leiber married Jonquil Stephens on January 16, 1936, and their son Justin Fritz Leiber was born in 1938. Jonquil's death in 1969 precipitated a three year bout of alcoholism, but he then returned to his original form with a fantasy novel set in modern-day San Francisco, Our Lady of Darkness - serialised in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction as "The Pale Brown Thing" (1977) - in which cities were the breeding grounds for new types of elementals, summonable by the dark art of megapolisomancy. The short parallel worlds story "Catch that Zeppelin!" (1975) added yet another Nebula and Hugo award to his collection.

Leiber was heavily influenced by H.P. Lovecraft and Robert Graves in the first two decades of his career. From the late Fifties onwards, he was increasingly influenced by the works of Carl Gustav Jung, particularly by the concepts of the anima and the shadow. Often, these concepts are mentioned openly in his stories, especially the anima, which becomes a method of exploring his fascination but estrangement from the female.

In the last years of his life, Leiber married his second wife, Margo Skinner, a journalist and poet with whom he had been friends for many years.

Fans awarded him the Gandalf (Grand Master) award at the World Science Fiction Convention in 1975, and in 1981 the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America voted him the recipient of their Grand Master award.

He wrote a short autobiography, which can be found in the collection The Ghost Light (1984). A critical biography, "Witches of the Mind," is available from Necronomicon Press.

He also acted in a few films, once with his father in RKO's The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939).


Other notable works

  • The Green Millennium
  • Conjure Wife - This novel relates a college professor's discovery that his wife (and all other women) are regularly using magic against one another and their husbands. It was filmed three times:
    • Weird Woman (1944)
    • Burn Witch, Burn (aka Night of the Eagle) (1962)
    • Witches' Brew (aka Which Witch is Which?) (1980)
  • Gather, Darkness!

List of short stories

"The Jewels in the Forest"
"Two Sought Adventure"
"The Automatic Pistol"
"The Bleak Shore"
"The Howling Tower"
"The Power of the Puppets"
"Smoke Ghost"
"They Never Come Back"
"The Hill and the Hole"
"The Hound"
"The Inheritance"
"The Phantom Slayer"
"Power of the Puppets"
"Spider Mansion"
"The Sunken Land"
"Conjure Wife"
"The Mutant's Brother"
"Thieves' House"
"To Make a Roman Holiday"
"Business of Killing"
"Crazy Wolf"
"Destiny Times Three"
"The Dreams of Albert Moreland"
"Wanted - An Enemy"
"Alice and the Allergy"
"Mr. Bauer and the Atoms"
"Adept's Gambit"
"The Diary in the Snow"
"Diary in the Snow"
"The Man Who Never Grew Young"
"The Girl with the Hungry Eyes"
"In the X-Ray"
"The Black Ewe"
"Coming Attraction"
"The Dead Man"
"The Enchanted Forest"
"Later Than You Think"
"Let Freedom Ring"
"The Lion and the Lamb"
"Martians, Keep Out!"
"The Ship Sails at Midnight"
"The Wolf Pack"
"You're All Alone"
"Appointment in Tomorrow"
"Claws from the Night"
"Cry Witch!"
"Dark Vengeance"
"Nice Girl with Five Husbands"
"A Pail of Air"
"Poor Superman"
"When the Last Gods Die"
"Dr. Kometevsky's Day"
"The Foxholes of Mars"
"I'm Looking for "Jeff""
"The Moon Is Green"
"Yesterday House"
"A Bad Day for Sales"
"The Big Holiday"
"The Night He Cried"
"The Seven Black Priests"
"The Silence Game"
"The Big Trek"
"Femmequin 973"
"Friends and Enemies"
"Time Fighter"
"Time in the Round"
"What's He Doing in There?"
"Bread Overhead"
"Bullet With His Name"
"A Deskful of Girls"
"The Last Letter"
"Little Old Miss Macbeth"
"The Number of the Beast"
"Space-Time for Springers"
"Try and Change the Past"
"Damnation Morning"
"The Haunted Future"
"The Improper Authorities"
"Lean Times in Lankhmar"
"The Mind Spider"
"Our Saucer Vacation"
"Pipe Dream"
"The Reward"
"Schizo Jimmie"
"The Silver Eggheads"
"All the Weed in the World"
"Deadly Moon"
"The Night of the Long Knives"
"The Oldest Soldier"
"When the Sea-King's Away"
"The Wolf Pair"
"The Beat Cluster"
"The Goggles of Dr. Dragonet"
"Hatchery of Dreams"
"Kreativity for Kats"
"Scream Wolf"
"Scylla's Daughter"
"The 64-Square Madhouse"
"Be of Good Cheer"
"The Big Engine"
"A Bit of the Dark World"
"The Creature from Cleveland Depths"
"The Lone Wolf"
"The Man Who Made Friends with Electricity"
"Myths My Great-Granddaughter Taught Me"
"The Secret Songs"
"The Snowbank Orbit"
"The Thirteenth Step"
"The Unholy Grail"
"237 Talking Statues, Etc."
"Bazaar of the Bizarre"
"The Casket-Demon"
"The Cloud of Hate"
"Dr. Adams' Garden of Evil"
"Game for Motel Room"
"A Hitch in Space"
"No Great Magic"
"The Spider"
"X Marks the Pedwalk"
"The Black Gondolier"
"Four Ghosts in Hamlet"
"Lie Still, Snow White"
"Midnight in the Mirror World"
"When the Change-Winds Blow"
"Far Reach to Cygnus"
"The Good New Days"
"Knight to Move"
"Moon Duel"
"The Crystal Prison"
"Sunk Without Trace"
"To Arkham and the Stars"
"Answering Service"
"Black Corridor"
"Gonna Roll The Bones"
"The Inner Circles"
"The Winter Flies"
"Crazy Annaoj"
"In the Witch's Tent"
"One Station of the Way"
"The Square Root of Brain"
"Their Mistress, the Sea"
"The Turned-off Heads"
"The Two Best Thieves in Lankhmar"
"When Brahma Wakes"
"The Wrong Branch"
"Endfray of the Ofay"
"Richmond, Late September, 1849"
"Ship of Shadows"
"When They Openly Walk"
"America the Beautiful"
"The Circle Curse"
"Ill Met in Lankhmar"
"The Price of Pain-Ease"
"The Snow Women"
"Gold, Black, and Silver"
"Another Cask of Wine"
"The Bump"
"Day Dark, Night Bright"
"The Lotus Eaters"
"The Bait"
"Cat Three"
"The Sadness of the Executioner"
"Trapped in the Shadowland"
"Beauty and the Beasts"
"Cat's Cradle"
"Do You Know Dave Wenzel?"
"Midnight by the Morphy Watch"
"Mysterious Doings in the Metropolitan Museum"
"Belsen Express"
"Catch That Zeppelin!"
"The Glove"
"Night Passage"
"Trapped in the Sea of Stars"
"Under the Thumbs of the Gods"
"Dark Wings"
"The Death of Princes"
"The Eeriest Ruined Dawn World"
"The Frost Monstreme"
"The Terror from the Depths"
"The Princess in the Tower 250,000 Miles High"
"A Rite of Spring"
"Sea Magic"
"Black Glass"
"The Mer She"
"The Button Molder"
"The Man Who Was Married to Space and Time"
"The Great San Francisco Glacier"
"Horrible Imaginings"
"The Moon Porthole"
"The Cat Hotel"
"The Curse of the Smalls and the Stars"
"Black Has Its Charms"
"The Ghost Light"


  • The Big Time contains an apparent numerical typo; in one chapter-head quotation it is stated that 100,000 metres equals 5.6 miles. Not one American or British editor has ever corrected this.
  • Leiber is often mispronounced as "Leeber"; the correct pronunciation is "Lyber".

External links


Fritz Reuter Leiber Sr. (January 31, 1882 - October 14, 1949), was an American actor, father of the author.

Leiber Sr. was a noted Shakespearean actor on stage and also in Hollywood from 1916 to his Leiber ja:フリッツ・ライバー nl:Fritz Leiber (schrijver) pl:Fritz Leiber


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